I will answer by saying, it should have been “the past”, “the present”, and “the future”!

Data empowers marketing teams to deliver on promises in a targeted way. Data identifies what customers want, when they want it and how they go about finding what they want.

Today’s tools allow you to gather data on shopping habits, demographics, browsing behaviours, time, location, past purchases, interests, professions, and associations, such as with family and friends. Analysing this data will make future marketing decisions and achieving a higher ROMI (Return On Marketing Investment) so much easier.

Through this process of customer analytics, you will create personas, segment your customers and gain a clearer understanding of how to target your audience.

Using Data to Select Marketing Channels

I have intentionally skimmed over the amount of data you should gather, and have not mentioned using external data sources, so not to put anyone off starting the journey of creating a marketing data inventory. Plus, it gives me the opportunity to write another blog post or two on data inventories.

If we look at Google Analytics for any website, we will discover that there is no “single path” that every visitor travels along. And if you have correctly configured goals or events (for form completions, PDF downloads etc.), and/or ecommerce tracking, you will find that a combination of marketing channels guide the visitor along the journey.

By simply looking at Google Analytics, you are looking at data. And by understanding what you see in front of you, you can evolve your marketing strategy to achieve even better results.

The aim is to determine which of your marketing channels perform better than others – and which channels appeal to your customer segments. This knowledge will allow you to make data driven decisions on which channels to increase spend (or resource), where to reduce spend, or even to reorder the sequence of channels on which you push your marketing messages.

The end goal is gaining a clearer knowledge of marketing attribution. You might discover that email marketing works well for mid-to-older demographics, but not very well for younger audiences. Likewise, targeting Google (for SEO or PPC activities) works well in the UK – and pretty much everywhere else, with some exceptions such as China. For greater market penetration, marketing on Bing can also improve performance in the USA.

Mixing Data with Creativity

Within our agency, we talk about creative campaigns – exciting stunts, interactive videos, memorable social promotions, engaging events – all are forms of marketing which drive brand awareness (and ultimately sales).

However, look beneath the skin, and someone, somewhere is using data to determine where the stunt should occur for maximum impact; what needs to go into the video so the intended viewers will watch it; what social platforms to use; and when to use them to reach the correct audience.

Data underpins everything in today’s marketing world, so much so, I challenge anyone to name a successful marketing campaign that doesn’t have at least one data decision sitting behind it!

Predictive Marketing Can Only Work Through Data

There is much hype and excitement surrounding predictive marketing. The truth is, it has been happening for a while; it is just most people have not been aware of it.

“Propensity to Purchase” is a dream phrase for any retailer, any business in fact. I would be surprised to hear from any business owner that they did not care where their next client or customer was coming from.

If we could select the customers who have the highest propensity to purchase, or convert, in a known timescale, which was timely and profitable, wouldn’t we all put our marketing efforts behind winning those customers?

The problem is, most organisations do not understand data and its benefits, so a scattergun, or cover all bases, or “finger in the air” marketing approach is adopted. Deploying your marketing budget where you could almost guarantee a sale (ok, to save me getting shot down, we’ll say the propensity score is better than 60%) would be the most effective way of growing your business.

Any business who embraces data marketing and follows through the process methodically will build the foundation of a self-improving marketing strategy that will pay dividends for many years.

In summary, I predict that marketing driven by data is the future!


An alternative Way To Answer The Question – Is Data Driven Marketing The Future?

By using Google Trends and reviewing a few key terms, perhaps the answer is easier to predict.

When looking at the term “Data Driven Marketing” we observe an interesting parabolic graph of decline during 2004 – 2010, then an upwards trend to date. A clear indication, one might say, to data driven marketing being the future.


The term SMART is commonplace and has numerous different applications depending on the objectives. However, looking at this in Google trends we observe a fairly flat plateau.


 The difference in magnitude is obvious when both are compared on the same scale.


Perhaps, and I say this tongue in cheek, as marketers use more data to underpin their strategies, they become smarter at how they execute marketing campaigns.

But what I can’t take away from the facts is the explosion of “digital marketing” over the past 5+ years, it flattens both with ease.

Finally, if we introduce the latest phenomenon of “Big Data” into the trends, then we can see what is coming. Once the Internet of Things (IoT) firmly establishes itself in everyday life, Big Data will become bigger and so will the volume and quality of data we have at our disposal as marketers.

My prediction is that this will transform the way all future marketing is performed.

So I finish off by suggesting, it is not a case of “Data Driven Marketing – Is It The Future?” - smarter marketing is the future!